The Advent of Justice… Again

From The Catalyst Winter 2014

There is a time and place in the ceaseless human endeavor to change the world, when alternative visions, no matter how fantastic, provide the grist for shaping powerful political forces for change. I believe we are precisely at such a moment.”

So wrote David Harvey in his 1989 book Spaces of Hope. If you want to change the world and if you want to shape political forces for good, then you will need to foster alternative visions “no matter how fantastic.”

Writing some 25 years ago, Harvey noted that most of the institutions we would look to for such vision (political parties, academics, the arts, etc.) had been so brow-beaten into submission by the cultural forces of the day that there was little alternative vision to be found.

Except for one institution. Harvey said that the church was the most notable exception. This was quite the observation for a neo-Marxist to make. The church, of course, finds its vision in the deep wells of biblical tradition. Christians know that without a vision, people will die. And Christians also know that without a vision constantly renewed, deepened, and expanded through engagement with scripture, they too will die. This insight has been at the heart of CPJ from the beginning.

And so, in 1993, a few years after Harvey had made this observation about vision and the church, a group of friends gathered to celebrate CPJ’s 30th anniversary by publishing a book of advent meditations called The Advent of Justice. Sylvia Keesmaat, J. Richard Middleton, Mark Vander Vennen, and myself invited our readers to enter deeply into the prophetic vision of Isaiah precisely as a place where an alternative vision for justice might be born, sustained, and renewed.

Taking their cue from Isaiah’s bold and sometimes disturbing vision, these meditations gave expression to an eyes-wide-open spirituality that would not avert our gaze from the injustice, violence, deceit, and disappointments of our lives. But it is in the face of such grief that hope is born.

Advent is often cheapened by the secular sentimentality of Christmas. This book of meditations led readers into a costly time of waiting and longing. It also bore witness to the radical hope that Isaiah proclaimed and Jesus embodied.

Illustrated by Willem Hart, the book became a treasured resource as an Advent devotional for families, schools, churches, and personal reflection.

Now, more than 20 years later, these meditations seem to resonate with our social, ecological, and political realities just as powerfully as they did when they were first published.

We are, therefore, pleased to announce the republication of The Advent of Justice by Wipf and Stock Publishers.

The Advent of Justice is available at All proceeds are dedicated to the ongoing work of Citizens for Public Justice to foster an alternative vision and enact justice.


  • Brian Walsh is a Christian Reformed campus minister at the University of Toronto, where he pastors the Wine Before Breakfast community.

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